Magic Mike

I would like to thank the Hollywood moguls who greenlight the popular culture images that we voluntarily pay money to watch and that invite us to compare ourselves to a Mila Kunis or Cameron Diaz; for now there is a film for the other half of the population to gaze upon and also feel completely inadequate and bad about their own bodies. I am speaking, of course, of Magic Mike.

The stripper movie has been around for a long time, although usually the ones taking off their clothes are girls. But someone suddenly realized that women actually go to the movies (Bridesmaids, anyone?) and might want to spend their cash on some naked men of their own, and God had already sent Channing Tatum down to earth as an angel so mashing up the two of them seemed like a good idea. This is essentially Flashdance with dudes, where the main exotic dancer is truly a good person who wants to better himself by opening his own business and designing awkward contemporary furniture that looks like it’s made from auto parts, proving that sometimes strippers should stick to what they are good at, heart of gold notwithstanding. There is also the prerequisite rookie who finds that a life of sex, drugs and thong rehearsal is way easier than a construction job and is pulled into the sleezy current of the clubs, much to the disapproval of his highly moral sister. And finally there is the classic older mentor who is charming but corrupt and will screw you faster than you can rip the backs pockets off his assless chaps.

The movie is directed by Steven Soderbergh, who has good credentials as a filmmaker (sex, lies & videotape, Ocean’s 11) but it’s pretty difficult to get past the limitations of the script. The film is set in Tampa and is shot with a sunbaked glare that makes everything look bleached out and colorless. Even the ocean isn’t blue, but a churned up, muddy brown; if I were the Florida Tourist Bureau, I would not consider using this movie as a marketing device.

However, none of the above is really pertinent, because frankly, we were there to see the naked guys, not critique Soderbergh’s cinematography. And while they have not gone the complete full monty, there are certainly enough bulging thongs and chiseled buttocks to keep most girls happy. And then there is Channing Tatum.

My previous experience with Mr. Tatum’s movies is that I can never remember what he looks like. Yeah, he has a rocking body but his face is so forgettable that he tends to blend into the background. Not this time. Perhaps it was because the story comes from his actual life when he spent eight months doing exactly what the film portrays, or perhaps because the man is an amazing dancer; either way, you can’t take your eyes off of him. The stripper numbers were sadly too short, and I have already put down a deposit on the DVD which is rumored to have the full routines on it. I must also pay tribute to Matthew McConaughey, who throws himself into the role as the corrupt owner with a gleeful lack of self restraint that is as hilarious as it is creepy, much like McConaughey himself. All right, all right, all right!

The theater was wall to wall women when I saw it, with the exception of a very uncomfortable looking boyfriend or two. There was unabashed hooting and hollering going on that mimicked the audience in the movie, and it’s certainly the most fun way to see this film. But I must question Hollywood’s decision not to release this movie in 3D. The possibility for things being thrust in your face are endless, and the one scene where a stripper is actually using a penis enlarger could have become a classic!

Barf Bag Rating: ZERO BAGS Nothing to make you queasy, unless you count Matthew McConaughey.

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